CLEVELAND — Indians manager Manny Acta juggled his lineup for the series opener with Texas at Progressive Field on Friday night.
It didn’t matter.
The return of Shin-Soo Choo to the leadoff spot did little to spark the offense as Cleveland limped to a 5-3 loss that extended its losing streak to six games.
Cleveland, which has lost 28 of its last 33 games, had only three hits and one run through eight innings before first baseman Casey Kotchman made it respectable with a two-run home run in the ninth.
What was far from respectable was the Indians losing for the 24th time to tie the franchise record for the most losses in one month — set in July of 1914. The 5-24 record equals the 1982 Mets and the 1961 Washington Senators for the worst mark ever in the majors during August.
“It’s been a really tough month for all of us,” said Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who suffered his 14th loss in 27 starts this season. “We can’t wait to move on.”
The Indians trailed early, thanks to another ineffective outing from Jimenez, who allowed four runs on eight hits. His pitch count rose to a season-high 117 despite the right-hander lasting just 5⅔ innings.
“Ubaldo battled today but, early in the game, he was inconsistent,” Acta said of Jimenez, who allowed three runs over the first three innings. “It kind of piled up his pitch count. He fought hard for us. We just couldn’t do anything offensively.”
At times, Jimenez, who is 13-18 with a 5.46 ERA in 38 starts since being acquired from Colorado for prized pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, is effective. At other times, he looks nothing like the former ace of the Rockies’ rotation.
“I think it’s a little bit about mechanics,” Jimenez said. “Sometimes it takes a couple pitches to get it back.”
Texas starter Ryan Dempster had little trouble with the sagging Cleveland lineup, allowing just an unearned run on two hits over six innings. The right-hander, who was acquired in a trading deadline deal with the Cubs, didn’t allow a hit over the first 3⅔ innings.
“He was using both sides of the plate,” Acta said of Dempster, who struck out seven and walked three. “Our guys didn’t adjust to him. That’s all he did. He’s been around. He knows how to pitch.”
With 30 games left, the Indians need three more wins to avoid accumulating the most losses in team history (105 in 1991).
After the game, Acta said the Indians would promote infielder/outfielder Russ Canzler and relief pitcher Scott Barnes from Triple-A Columbus, and outfielder Thomas Neal from Double-A Akron.
Neal, acquired from the Giants last year for Orlando Cabrera, is not a member of Cleveland’s 40-man roster, which means someone will be replaced today.
The Indians also announced that right-hander Jeanmar Gomez would start in place of Roberto Hernandez tonight. Hernandez, who injured his right ankle during his last start, felt discomfort in the ankle during pitcher’s fielding practice prior to Friday’s game.
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• WHO: Cleveland vs. Texas
• TIME: 7:05
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Gomez (4-7, 5.11 ERA) vs. Feldman (6-10, 4.95)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM